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How Slavery Works in the Western World - It's All Relative


Most of us have it rather good in the west. But it's all relative. This is a story of degrees. When I say most of us have it good, that's compared to say, how it was, or is, for actual slaves. The argument is about the degree to which we are free... or not.

We're still "slaves" to a degree; In deference to actual slaves, I'm going to put quotes around the term. I acknowledge some people have or had it much, much worse.

To even call it slavery is perhaps a level of hyperbole; In our case the chains we're discussing are invisible, or more to the point, so "in your face" you don't even notice them. However, the fact remains, many if not most people will end up spending something like half of their working life, forced to work for the benefit of someone who is not their employer, and not themselves, and we just take it for granted because it's so ingrained in the Western System that this is just how it is.

How to Keep a Western Idiot in Slavery, Without Them Ever Noticing.

Yes, that's hyperbole too. Of course people aren't idiots. Lots of people even understand this, but simply don't have the power to do anything about it, because they are "slaves", so they go along with it because they have no obvious better option.

The fact is, our choices are limited. Sure, we have freedoms, but not complete freedom.

Lets's Get to the Crux

If you decide you don't want to go to work on Monday, you can't be thrown in jail for that, but let's look at the chain of events that occurs if you don't actually go to work.

Well, first off, the money stops coming in, understandably. Given time, your money runs out, and you can't pay your rent or mortgage. Then after a suitable process you get kicked out of your home, and you end up on the street, and then... then you're a criminal. It's literally illegal to be homeless (at least it is in the UK) due to the Vagrancy Act of 1824.

So basically, unless you're very rich to start with, through a step by step process, it is literally illegal, for you not to go to work on Monday... or whatever days you work, if that means you end up being unable to afford rent or mortgage and end up on the street.

Again, this is an argument about degrees. If you're unable to afford rent, you can claim Housing Benefit... to a degree. Around London, levels of Housing Benefit don't always cover the costs of private rents. Then there's the social stigma fueled by a right wing media against doing so. They could stigmatise exploitative landlords. They could stigmatise the free market economics which leads to landlords having the ability to charge such high rents... but capitalists will always rather stigmatise those who are of no use to them, because they are simply unable to pay. Social stigma is a handy tool.

The point being, you're not free to not go to work. Now we need a small amount of money to pay for food; A bit more to pay for clothes and other sundries. We'd have to do some amount of work to get these and of course, that's fair enough; Or at least it would be if we had a legal right to forage... but I digress, the point is, we need a lot of money to pay for rent or mortgage.

So Why are Rent and Mortgage Costs SO HIGH?

The basic mechanism is two fold. The first is simple market economics. Scarcity in the housing market, means there are more people than houses. That means people are willing to pay more than they otherwise would in order to have a home.

Part 1: 'Scarcity'.

Example 1: A Situation with No Scarcity.

Imagine a system with 9 families and 10 houses. Everyone can have a house. People will probably choose the best 9 houses, although the owner of the tenth house might lower their prices in order to attract someone to choose that house instead. In that instance, the people who own the other houses might also lower their prices to compete. Free Market Capitalism actually works reasonably well for this basic model.

Example 2: We Introduce Scarcity.

Change that around. Now consider we have 10 families, and 9 houses. Someone is going to go without, and no one wants to be the one who goes without such a fundementally basic requirement as a home. This means that people will be willing to spend a far higher proportion of their income on housing, and causes a significant shift in how the economy functions.

Of course house prices increase in this case. People will be willing to spend a much greater proportion of their income to ensure they aren't the homeless ones. This also has knock on effects for the rest of the economy, because that means people have less money to spend on other things.

Basically, the poor will pay pretty much everything they have to get a home, and the richest will pay whatever it then takes above that, in order to get the best homes. The poorest are fucked.

Part 2: Banking and our Money System

So what happens, if the poor will pay everything they have.... but then rather than allowing that to limit the price of houses, you allow them to "borrow", or more to the point, get a mortgage from a bank. In 'ye olde days' when people would borrow from a building society, this wasn't as much of an issue. Now people borrow from banks, and there's a big difference.

Not everyone knows where money comes from, but the basis of it is that the majority of money is created, by a basic accounting trick, out of thin air, when banks make loans.

Suddenly, banks are creating money out of thin air to flood the housing market with. House prices rocket as people compete for homes, and they're willing to go further, and further, and further into debt, and borrow more and more and more to ensure they aren't the ones left without.

In the sixty years since 1960, private banks have increased the amount of money in circulation by around 250 times, mostly fueled by creating money ("loans") for people to buy houses. The majority of that was since the 1980's and the introduction of 'Right to Buy' of council houses. It's perhaps worth stressing that 'Right to Buy' wasn't the problem. It was the fact that Councils were prevented from replenishing council housing stock in in the face of a growing population.

That massive increase in the money supply, being pumped direclty into the housing market, meant that over time people were paying a greater and greater proportion of their income on rent or mortgage.

[in the 1930's] "85% of new houses sold for less than £750 (£45,000 in today’s money). Terraced houses in the London area could be bought for £395 in the mid-1930s when average earnings were about £165 per year." -

Imagine being able to buy a house, in London, for less than three times the anual salary of one person.


Summation - Let's get back to this "Slavery" Issue

You don't have a choice not to go to work; Not if you want a home.

You might get a choice of who to work for. You might, if you're one of the lucky ones, have a good job, which on most days you enjoy. However, you do not have a choice about whether or not you do it; Just try stopping doing it and see what happens.

The cost of homes is being massively inflated, to some degree by scarcity, because for generations governments have chosen not to build enough homes, while selling those that were in state control for fair rents, into the private sector.

The scarcity issue is however massively inflated by the constant influx of new and ever increasing amounts of money into the housing market, because people are willing to borrow more, and more, and more, and more, for what is a vital and scarce commodity.

And without government intervention, in what is a very broken market, that isn't going to change. For capitalism to work in this area, you have to have to have more homes than people, or family units.

What's more, if we're only building low end housing, that no one actually wants to live in, but only do because there's no other choice, that's not removing the "slavery" issue. If we're going to get away from the "slavery" issue, we need to be creating an abundance of houses which people actually want to live in.

And that's not going to happen under the current system, because it's not profitable for the people in control of the system to do that.